Facebook king of SA youth tech drive - survey

2015-03-03 12:08 - Duncan Alfreds, Fin24
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Facebook has emerged as the most popular social media destination. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

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Cape Town - Facebook is the king of the South African youth tech movement, marking the era of the social networking revolution, a survey has found.

According to the 2015 Student Tech Survey by World Wide Worx and Student Brands, with the support of Standard Bank, 97% of respondents say they use the global social network, with Twitter (67%) and YouTube (44%) rounding out the top three.

"The survey is a powerful indication that the student market - which comprises future working professionals - is embracing social networking," said Vuyo Mpako, head of Innovation and Channel Design at Standard Bank.

"It is therefore important to note that social networking will become a central component of any services provided to this market in the future," Mpako added.

This survey gels with a recent application data analysis which found that social media applications dominate data consumption on mobile phones.

Communication importance

The Ericsson Mobility Report found that Facebook was universally popular in the US, South Korea and Spain, and consumed around 20% of mobile data traffic.

Despite the growth of social networking, the Student Tech Survey found that while 95% of the respondent audience had bank accounts, they do not yet use these platforms for interacting with their banks.

Only 9% used social media to get information from banks versus visiting a branch (58%), calling (51%) and checking the website (42%).

Communication is important to the student generation, the survey found, but Facebook-owned WhatsApp dominates the South African market at 92%, followed by Facebook Messenger at 55%, BBM (48%) and former South African chat king Mxit at just 9%.

While around 10% of students still have feature phones, the trend is largely towards smartphones with Android in the driving seat with 38%. However, the survey revealed that in SA, BlackBerry OS holds a strong position with market share of 32%.

Microsoft's Windows Phone OS is at 7% among students.

While the BlackBerry smartphone is one of the most popular devices among students, around 50% said they would buy an iPhone if cost were not an issue, followed by Samsung (29%) and Sony (9%).

Personally affected

"There is a vast affordability gap between what students wish they could get and what they intend to get," said Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of technology market research organisation World Wide Worx.

Students also indicated that they were personally affected by what they saw on social media.

Facebook was recently criticised for allowing a study in which 700 000 users' news feeds were manipulated to check their reactions.

In the US, the Federal Trade Commission investigated whether the study was a violation of the settlement on privacy the global social network reached with the Electronic Privacy Information Centre.

However, the overall majority of students indicated that modern technology tools helped them study better and improve learning techniques.

"Technology delivers both the positive and negative for students. The overwhelming finding of the survey, though, is that it enhances their academic and social lives and their lifestyles in general," Goldstuck said.

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